Monday, March 31, 2008

The Whitney Awards—From Someone Who Wasn’t There

By C.L. Beck
© 2008

No schtick, no humor. For once, I’m going to talk about something serious—the Whitney Awards. Fellow blogger, Keith Fisher, attended and he wrote about the experience yesterday (Sunday). However, I thought you’d also like the viewpoint from someone who wasn’t there.

Being old fogies, my husband, Russ, and I collapsed in our hotel room, three floors above the Whitney Gala Awards, just before they started. Our minds and bodies were totally worn out from the intensive schedule of the LDStorymakers’ Conference.

I was certain I wouldn’t miss climbing into a dress, squeezing into a pair of panty hose and trying to walk in a pair of heels to attend the awards. Doing the "dress up" routine once a week on Sunday is one day out of seven too many, in my book. And I haven’t been interested in a big awards ceremony, like the Academy Awards, since Ben Kingsley (Ghandi) defeated Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie) for best actor. Remember, I’m a humor writer, so I wouldn’t be as awed by some guy running around with a shaved head and wearing a sheet, as I would be by some guy running around with a coiffed, red wig, and wearing a dress.

But I digress …

To my surprise, I felt bad missing the Whitneys. Authors that I knew well, and some not known so well, were down there, three floors below. They were being honored for contributing to LDS literature. It was a big deal. In my opinion, a much bigger deal than the Academy Awards have ever been.

Just by sheer luck, I clicked on Marsha Ward’s blog, The Writer in the Pines, and discovered that Tristi Pinkston, Matthew Buckley, Jaime Theler, and Hilary Blair were running a live blog of the event, complete with photos and comments.

As I lay in bed, reading their words, I could hear muffled sounds below where Rob Wells emceed, Jeff Savage told jokes, presentors declared nominations . . . and after tense moments, announced the winners. If my pajamas had buttons, I would have burst them—that’s how proud I felt of everyone. From our room high above the events, Russ and I cheered when some of our favorite authors won, moaned when some of our favorites lost, and became teary-eyed as we read that Jennie Hansen, Anita Stansfield and Dean Hughes were given life-time achievement awards.

It was the best awards ceremony that I’ve never attended.

I’d like to express appreciation to the Whitney committee for thinking of live blogs, and thank Marsha for posting the link. Lastly, I am so grateful to Tristi, Matthew, Jaime and Hilary for willingly taking their eyes off the resplendent gowns, smart-looking tuxedos, and glowing faces long enough to share the joy with those who sat reading the live comments, three floors above.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Recognition and Rejuvenation

By Keith Fisher

Since there are so many blogs about the Whitneys I wasn't going to post this. I was persuaded, however, by C. Larene Hall. So if you don't like it, blame her. Make sure you also check out the other blog below

Since I post on Saturday, I guess I’m going to be one of the last ones to say something about the latest LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference. It was fantastic. I posted from the hotel room last week while getting ready for boot camp. I was tired from the day before, but I had a smile on my face. Even though I was late, I still didn’t have to do pushups.

I was also very proud to witness history in the making as the Whitney Awards Gala unfolded. Robison Wells and his staff are to be commended for listening to the spirit and making it a reality. Recognition for LDS writers has been sorely needed for some time. When we gave Dean Hughes a standing ovation, I cried. He and others deserve high praise for being the pioneers of the LDS fiction market.

Before the awards were presented, Robison read from the talk given by Orson F Whitney that inspired the Whitney Awards. I looked around the room and could not see any writer who was not touched by those powerful words. Bishop Whitney was speaking to us when he said,

We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God's name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth.

It touched my heart when Robison read, Ye are the "hope of Israel." The heavens are watching you, and the earth is waiting for you.

And this is our charge,

But remember this, ye writers and orators of the future! It is for God's glory—not man's. Let not vanity and pride possess you. Without humility there is no power. You must be in earnest. You must feel what you write, if you wish it to be felt by others. If the words you speak are not as red-hot embers from the flaming forge of a sincere and earnest soul, they will never set on fire the souls of your hearers.

Bishop Whitney’s inspired words from out of the past are rejuvenating to me. They help me remember the reasons I chose to write in the LDS market. I want to set on fire the souls of my readers. Great job with the conference LDStorymakers, and kudos to Robison and the others. It is worth all the rejections just to be able to rub shoulders with God’s brightest spirits.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I’m Lost in the Genre Jungle

By Keith Fisher

I was going to post an article about the Whitney awards but I’m sure everyone is tired of that. Maybe I’ll save it and post later, when I’m too busy to write. Until then, here is something else.

I entered the LDStorymakers first chapter contest again this year. Since I placed third in the Mystery/Suspense category last year, I thought I had a chance. My manuscripts are so much better than last years, how could I lose?

I lost! Yeah, I lost because everyone else’s manuscripts were better. It’s a fact . . . you learn to deal with those things . . . I guess . . . seriously though, congrats to all the winners. I know you did a great job. After the contest, I picked up my packets and found some interesting comments from the judges. Some were good, some bad—all of them were helpful.

I learned much from those comments and I was reminded that every writer and reader has different tastes. The same paragraph can get a wide range of criticism depending on who is doing the judging. The same applies to teaching and books about writing. Everything is subjective but it is valuable—even if only for a good laugh. The important thing is to believe in your writing—glean what you can from a critique, be honest with yourself, learn from the good suggestions, and disregard the rest. From my critique packet, I discovered I’m genre-less.

No, its not a disease . . . well maybe . . . depends on which group . . . let me explain. In the past, when people asked me what I write, I told them I write contemporary LDS, adult fiction. When someone presses further, I say it's like Dean Hughes. Not necessarily historical, but have you ever read Midway to Heaven? Or his new book Before the Dawn? Basically, it’s the feel good type of coming of age or dealing with life kind of story that we all love.

Since my manuscripts weren’t mysterious or suspenseful, I asked if I could still enter the contest this year. I was told to submit it in those categories anyway. I did, and that brings us back to the comments. It was suggested by many of the judges that I put more suspense in the hook.

In the prologue of one of my entries, there is a man on death row with no explanation as to why, only vague regret and the emotions of brothers saying goodbye for the last time. In the other entry, a man plunges to his death in a mountain climbing accident while his friend fights for survival in a blizzard, trying to get off the mountain. Would you read these books? I suppose I could put a serial killer in someplace, but I think it would mess up the plot.

At the Whitney Awards this year, I cried when we honored Dean Hughes for his achievements. In light of my dilemma, I propose we honor him further by naming a genre after him. Instead of mysteries, we could have Hughes-eries. Then everyone would know the kind of story I’ve written and I wouldn’t have to write the first chapter of a mystery in order to enter the contest. Like the two I started to enter the contest last year.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, March 28, 2008


by G.Parker

Sometimes I feel as if we are living in a "virtual world". Things don't seem real, and I wonder what would happen if there was a reset button. Part of this comes from having gotten a Wii for Christmas and discovering it really is addictive and part of it comes from the regular lives we lead -- duality.

We are who we are -- writers.

And yet, we are other things as well. It's like the whole hat wearing thing. Which hat are you wearing today? Are you mom, dad, brother, sister, doctor, cook? Or are you simply writing? I feel sometimes as if our lives take on a surreal feel to them. Nothing really matters in this life outside the relationships we form, the knowledge we gain and the growth in our hearts. But we are so caught up in all the other trivial things, sometimes we forget that it doesn't really matter.

When I was living on my own many years ago, I used to have a pet phrase. "Is this really going to matter in the eternities?" I generally used this in reference to some mishap that went on between my roommate and me, or something that really made me angry. I haven't used it as much since I became married and had children, and I'm not sure why. I think sometimes we lose sight of the important things when we are dogged down with the mundane. Somehow it doesn't seem as if eternity will be thrilling if all it's going to be is diapers and throw-up. But after you get past that, and the sun starts shining, you realize there is more to life than the every day. You just have to look for it.

As a writer, one tends to look at everything with a different slant. That makes us a little strange to some people, but that's what we are. We think of the hidden meaning behind an exchange between two people -- what would have made them talk to each other in such a way, what if something else had happened?

So, eventually, our world becomes involved in the unreal. The what if. And suddenly you find yourself wondering if your life is just another re-run of the Twilight Zone and you really are out on some alien world thinking you're living here....

The trick is using that to your benefit. Our imagination is what sets us apart and enables us to dream of alternate realities, making them our own. These realities can seem as real as what we are now, and it's easy to get caught up in them. I've even heard some writers complain that the voices won't shut up when their they're in church -- they still want to talk. Hmmmm....that's a little strange. (grin)

Whatever you write, wherever you are in life, there is always going to be that moment of disorientation. Because no matter how we view it, this life is just a test and we are being given time to rewrite our final essays as many times as we can until we get them right. We just don't want to put it off till it's too late to make that final draft -- we won't have a reset button then.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We All Win

By Nichole Giles

Last weekend, I was privileged to have the opportunity to attend the fifth annual LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference. For the first time ever, this year’s conference sold out completely—they even had a waiting list. As if the conference wasn’t enough, I was equally blessed with the opportunity to attend the first ever Whitney Awards Gala.

But what, you ask, is a Whitney Award?

Let me start at the beginning. In 1888, Orson F. Whitney gave a speech about the future of LDS literature. The speech was very long, and though I’d love to quote it word for word here (it is incredibly beautiful) I’ll paraphrase the meaning by quoting only the most pertinent paragraph. Whitney said:

“We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God's name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth. Let the smile of derision wreathe the face of scorn; let the frown of hatred darken the brow of bigotry. Small things are the seeds of great things, and, like the acorn that brings forth the oak, or the snowflake that forms the avalanche, God's kingdom will grow, and on wings of light and power soar to the summit of its destiny. Let us onward, then, and upward, keeping the goal in view; living not in the dead past, nor for the dying present. The future is our field. Eternity is before us.”

Whitney’s words were the inspiration for Robison Wells when he embarked on the creation of the first ever LDS literary awards. Of course, Rob was not alone in this creation. There were a great many people who helped pull everything together to turn it into the amazing experience that it was.

And while I admit to feeling a little bit like a groupie as I dressed in my formal attire and snapped shots of all my favorite authors—or at least the ones who were able to attend—spending time with those brilliant people was not the most amazing part. Okay, that part was really cool, but even more amazing was the whole idea that I was able to witness something that will surely become a historical event.

Think about it. This is only the beginning. Whitney awards will likely be given out every year from now until the end of forever. And to me—besides recognition for all the best works of literature by LDS authors—that becomes an opportunity. It is one more goal toward which I can aim. It means a chance to be more than just an author—but an award-winning author known for clean content and excellent descriptive skills. A Milton or Shakespeare of the twenty-first century.

So thank you, Whitney committee, for all your efforts and inspiration. You’ve reminded us that someday we will all have the chance to be winners, even if we never receive a trophy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Focus on the Path

By C. LaRene Hall

Five years ago, when I first started thinking seriously about writing I posted a list next to my computer to help me avoid certain taboo words while writing. Some of those words included “was” and “were”. Until this past weekend, I never realized why they are wrong. I usually searched each document and tried to delete the words if I could, but didn’t understand why.

On Friday, while at the LDStorymaker’s Conference I learned that when you use was and were you are telling instead of showing. The entire concepts of changing “was” and “were” into action words such as “he was writing” into “he wrote” finally clicked for me. With this firmly in my mind, I searched for the unwanted words and now my story has more action.

The day was long, but worthwhile. We were encouraged to be persistent in our writing, and never give up. They told us that if we want to improve our writing we should read and read and read. The journey of writing is important and we should focus on what we are inspired to write.

Lisa Magnum from Deseret Book listed five things you as a writer cannot control.
1. Publishing is a business.
2. Number of manuscripts submitted in a year.
3. Other manuscripts that are similar to yours.
4. What other people are doing.
5. Her moods.

She then listed five things that we can control.
1. Do your homework.
2. Follow guidelines.
3. Write a killer cover letter.
4. Showcase your talent.
5. Deal with rejection letters.

Jessica Day George, the keynote speaker ended the general session on Friday by reminding us that we are encouraged to explore our talents because it’s part of our culture.

This conference helped me once again focus on the path I am headed toward. Thank you LDS Storymakers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Seven Unknown Writing Facts about Me

By Darvell Hunt

I got tagged for today's blog by a fellow blogger, but I thought I would take the challenge to write seven things about me as: “Seven Unknown Writing Facts about Me.” Here’s the short list:

1. I have written a total of 7 novels, none of which are published yet. An excerpt of one of them, however, placed in a short story contest and was published in the official magazine of the Association for Mormon Letters, The Irreantum, in 2006.

2. I first discovered my interest in writing in the 5th grade, when a student teacher brought a poet into class to broaden our interests. She encouraged us all to write our own poems, so I did. I fell in love with writing poetry and wrote many poems, most of which I still have. Unfortunately, I no longer have those that I wrote in the 5th grade.

3. I used to read a lot of children’s fiction up until about the seventh grade, at which point I concentrated more on schoolwork and considered fiction to be a waste of time—facts were more important than fiction to me. Throughout my high school years and beyond, I didn’t read much fiction, until after my mission, when I transitioned from writing poetry to writing fiction. I also started reading fiction again. Sadly, I write very little poetry any more.

4. The most significant change that affected my writing skill was getting a job that required a 400-Mile, 6-hour commute. I started listening to audio books and “read” a great number of books during my weekly commute. I felt that I had reached a plateau in my writing that I could not seem to overcome and was unsure if I should keep trying or quit altogether. Reading helped my writing more than any other single thing I have ever done and I continue to try to read as much as I can.

5. My grandfather wrote a lot of poetry throughout his life. I like to think a little of my writing ability was inherited from him.

6. My mother told me that I am a descendant of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I like to think a little of my writing ability was inherited from him.

7. One of my novels was rejected by an LDS publisher, recalled, and then rejected again. The reason they told me it was rejected was that it was too much like Harry Potter. I didn’t know that could be a bad thing. I wrote the story because my kids were enjoying Harry Potter so much and I wanted to write something they would enjoy, because they couldn't really read anything that I had written thus far. They liked it; so did I. I’m still working on finding a publisher for it.

That's it. I'm supposed to tag somebody now, but, like the chain letters I get in the mail, I'm afraid I'm going to break this one and hope it brings me good luck. Well, actually, I don't believe much in good luck. I think luck is where opportunity meets preparedness and hard work.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Home Away from Home, the Final Episode

C.L. Beck
© 2008

Just in case some of you might be interested . . . I have a short story titled, “Horse on Lap” coming out in April in the national publication, Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers. You can order a signed copy from me at: author(at)bythebecks(dot)com. I'll also be doing book signings for it in the near future. Wahoo, it's exciting! More info to come in the next few weeks!

Now ... back to the last installment in the series: "Home Away from Home, the Final Episode"

It was evening. The last thing we wanted was to spend the night sleeping in a room the temperature of a meat locker. However, we wanted even less to spend the night in the company of a maintenance man, banging away on the heater, interrupting our rest and relaxation.


The night before, in our hotel-room-the-size-of-a-closet, the TV hadn’t worked. Earlier that day, the maintenance man was standing in the lobby. I have a finely-tuned brain that picks up on vibes … the pleasure of someone eating rich, milk chocolate; the happiness of couples in love; the thoughts of serial killers.

The maintenance man definitely did not bring chocolate to mind.

“If that creepy guy shows up to fix the TV, I’m outta here,” I said as my hubby, Russ, called the front desk about the television.

Two men showed up. The first one started working on the TV, and the second one walked in through the open door a few minutes later. It was the man from the lobby. Neither the dog nor I could fit under the bed, so we hightailed it to the bathroom.

It got tiring, sitting on the commode for half an hour. And who in their right mind wants to lie down on the floor with all the germs? Corky Porky Pie and I finally reached a compromise. He settled his short, fat body on the floor, and I settled mine in the bathtub, fully clothed.

However, that was the night before. Any serial killers/axe murderers currently wandering the hotel had no clue we’d changed rooms. Not even the maintenance man. Still, we preferred to take our chances with the heater.

All night long I got up and down, first turning the thermostat on high so something akin to the fires of Hades radiated from the wall furnace. Then, half an hour later, turning it off—before the heating unit quit and the fan kicked on, freezing us into Sno-Cones.

After two days of this, we were ready to go home. I thought a nice, hot shower before we left would be the ticket. Moisture condensed in a fine mist on the cold, tile floor. Stepping out of the tub, I put on my flip-flops. Ooo, a little slippery, I thought as my feet slid a tiny bit. Then I walked out, got dressed and started packing.

What? You thought there’d be more drama? More slipping and sliding, bumping and ouching?

There wasn’t.

The drama happened fifteen minutes later when, wearing shoes with treads the size of a steel-belted tractor tire, I walked into the bathroom again. As soon as I hit the still-damp floor, my feet shot out from under me. One knee smashed into the toilet six inches away, while the other leg buckled at an odd angle. With arms flailing, I grabbed the only thing nearby, the shower curtain.

If my knee wasn’t throbbing, a goose egg wasn’t rising, and a contusion wasn’t spreading beneath my skin, I would have found it funny—as I lay in a heap on the floor. I’d have laughed that in a hotel where the elevator, TV and heater didn’t work, someone had anchored a shower curtain rod firmly enough to the wall to slow the descent of a hundred and . . . um . . . let’s just say hundred-and-something pound woman.

Russ came in and picked me up. Fearing we were jinxed, we vacated the hotel like the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines. Well, okay, Russ and Corky did that—I just limped away, hoping to get out while all my bones were still intact.

And despite the pain, I congratulated myself the whole way home . . . it’s not every day a story like that falls into a writer’s lap.

Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann, "Priming the Pump, pg. 79 by C.L. Beck
Newspaper Column--Awarded first place, "Best Feature Column," by Utah Press Association, 2008, for category 1 newspapers
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction

What books C.L. recommends:
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Counting Victories

By Keith Fisher

I’m writing from the LDStorymakers Writer’s conference this week, wish you were here. I’ll send you some pictures. I heard Tim Travaglini-Senior Editor, Putnam Books talk about some of the same things as I have written, but I wrote it three days ago, honest. So if you heard this at the conference, I hope it’s not a repeat for you.

Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you knew you would never be published? Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to think about it . . . good, hold that thought while I talk about victories for a moment.

I was inspired the other day by Marsha Ward. In her blog, she talked about our tendencies toward self-doubt and the bouts with depression even multi-published authors succumb to. It lifted me to know we all struggle to believe in ourselves.

There are many stories about writers who, after submitting their work umpteen times, finally get published. The lesson is simple: Never give up, keep writing, keep submitting, use rejections as proof to the IRS that you really are trying to get published.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe, especially when we see the great successes others are having. We wonder why we ever deluded ourselves into believing we could make a difference. I’m told there are thousands of would be writers with desires to write a novel, but they never actually begin.

If you are putting words together on paper with an end result in mind, you’re a writer. You have surpassed those who never start.

So, now we have established you are a writer, get on with your chosen occupation. Write for the sheer pleasure of it. If it turns out bad, file it away and start another story.

I found a quote in The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman that is pertinent. " . . . become devoted to the craft of writing, for it’s own sake. Ask yourself what would you do if you found out you would never be published. Would you still write? If you are truly writing for the art of it, the answer would be yes. And then, every word is a victory."

Be victorious. Find joy in creation. You will notice that the more you write the better you will get, and someday you will be published, although it may be a great shock.

Good luck with your writing, wish you were here. See you next week.

Friday, March 21, 2008

You Are Where You Are Because That's Where You Want to Be

by G.Parker

Many years ago, my husband and I owned a business that sent us motivational tapes every week. These tapes, for the most part, were great entertainment as well as motivating and we still remember many of them. One of those was a man who was telling us how, despite the fact that he'd "arrived", he still had much to learn about choices and growth.

He told of how he'd gone to Boston to speak with the great motivator, Zig Ziglar. He was feeling a little intimidated, but also a little full of himself since he'd been asked to speak with the well known man. However, getting there was a problem. He drove his big new motorcoach, following the traffic signs and getting more and more lost. He kept remembering what someone had told him, "You are where you are because that's where you want to be." He was like, "No, I don't want to be lost on the freeways of Boston, I want to be on stage with Zig Ziglar."

He recounts that by the time two hours had gone by, his son was in the back window with a handmade sign that said, "Help, we're lost!"

That phrase is something that has stuck with my hubby and me. Many times we'll tease each other about being lost or doing something we don't want to do by reminding the other of that motto. I feel today it's particularly ironic.

Today is the start of the LDS Storymakers Writing Conference. All my fellow bloggers and members of Authors Incognito will be there, rubbing elbows with the gifted, the published, the who's who in LDS literature. Sigh. I'm telling myself, "You are where you are because that's where you want to be." It's a bitter pill to swallow in realizing that my choices over the past year have put me exactly where I didn't want to be.

There's no way I'd rather be home if I could be there. I'm a writer, after all, and desire to learn all I can about my craft. So, instead of shuffling around the house bemoaning the fact that I'm not there partying with the others and driving my family crazy with frustration, I'll be pulling out my notes from the previous two years and hearing the presenters voices in my head, pretending I'm there with them -- where I'd really like to be.

Hopefully next year, I really will be where I am because that's where I want to be.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Here it Comes!

By Nichole Giles

Every March, the volume of email exchange in our writer’s group expands like a balloon being held to the nozzle of a helium tank. It could be spring fever, or the end of a long (and freezing cold) winter. Maybe we’re all starting to recover from the sick season that always follows the holidays, or it could be that the additional hour of daylight has given us more energy. There are so many possible answers to this phenomenon, but only one that really, truly explains it.

It’s time for the annual LDS Storymakers Writer’s Conference.

Of all the conferences we attend each year, we love the LDStorymakers conference most. This is the one we can become involved in, and share ideas, and socialize with authors, published and unpublished alike. It’s our time.

Granted, it does help our excitement when we start writing skits to recruit more writers to our group. And when we talk about visits from the writing fairy (aka Tristi Pinkston) and door prizes, and the first chapter contest (open only to conference participants.)

So, we exchange a frenzy of emails, and we order t-shirts and hats and buttons in order to recognize each other. And we plan parties and pranks and get-togethers while we count down the days until the conference.

Well, it’s finally here. Today, authors all over the country are gathering their bearings and packing their laptops, notebooks and pens to prepare for boot camp early tomorrow. There is no big pressure, as it’s all in the spirit of learning and fun—even if they make us drop and give them fifty.

And if you happen to be staying in a hotel somewhere near Sandy City, Utah this weekend, don’t be alarmed when a group of crazed women who smell like popcorn and chocolate come knocking on your door in the middle of the night yelling, “The Stompers are coming!” and then run away laughing like goons. It’s just a bunch of brain-fried-exhausted authors letting off steam.

Oh, and also, don’t be alarmed if you happen to witness thirty or forty people running around in clothing from other eras in time, space, or stories, tagging each other with a fairy wand and screaming, “Cut that chapter!” We’re not crazy or drunk. We’re just learning to see the possibilities.

Stay tuned next week for highlights of the best of Authors Incognito and the LDStorymakers at the conference. Maybe I’ll even include pictures.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Caught Again

By C. LaRene Hall

I’m the victim of a tag game again. It seems I did this before, but it’s been awhile so I’ll give it a shot. I’m supposed to share seven random things about myself.

1. I’m the oldest of five children – a brother eighteen months younger than me, a sister almost four years younger, and two other sisters. One was born when I was sixteen, and the other when I was nineteen.

2. Before I was in the 5th grade, we lived in so many places that it would take all my fingers and most of my toes to count them.

3. I love to travel. It doesn’t matter where as long as I can see something new. I love this beautiful earth, and won’t be entirely happy until I can see every inch of it. The only problem is I only speak one language. I’ve tried to learn German, Spanish, and Samoan, but it never stuck.

4. I hate shopping. I will do almost anything to avoid going to a store. It doesn’t matter what kind of store – I hate them all. If the economy depended on me spending money in a store, it would be in trouble.

5. If I could choose somewhere else I would want to live, it would be in Virginia. I love that place. There are so many historical things that happened there I would never tire of exploring.

6. When I was young, I spent lots of time in front of an audience. It seemed I was always playing a solo on the violin or singing a solo or dancing for someone. I also acted in the plays at school. One year my brother and I learned ballroom dancing and performed in an all church musical festival.

7. I collect fairies. I read about them, I write about them, and I dream about them. If I could be anything but a person, I’d choose to be a fairy.

I think I should choose 3 other people to tag. I should probably choose my other fellow bloggers - Keith, G. Parker, and Karen. Let's hear from the three of you soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Yard Work of Editing

by Karen Hoover

I was chatting with a neighbor the other day and the strangest thing popped out of my mouth. “Editing is like yard work,” I told her. The more I think about it, the more true it feels.

Every spring the snow melts and the weeds start to thrive and what do I do about it? Well, to begin with—nothing, but when it starts to overwhelm the yard I grudgingly pull out the rake and the hoe and get to work. I hack and rake and dig until I can find some beauty in the space. I lay fresh soil and fertilizer, maybe plant some seeds, and though the weeds are gone, all I see is a pile of dirt. The results don’t pop out right away. It takes some time and continuous work to see the beauty—effort that I really don’t enjoy.

The creative part is fun. A family picnic on beautiful grass on a glorious, summer day. It’s sheer joy—but the editing? Work, work, work.

Here’s the question: who wants to barbecue in a dead, weedy yard? Who wants to read an unedited book? Not me.

So, off to work I go. Gathering my thesaurus, critique comments, and laptop I’ll dig out the overused words and prune the bad habit of describing things in minute detail from my story. After that I’ll plant some seeds of emotion and adventure and wait for it to blossom into a publishable book.

The yard work of editing—the necessary evil of the writing life—but oh what joy it brings in the end.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Home Away from Home, Part Two

C.L. Beck
© 2008

I repacked our belongings and loaded everything onto a luggage cart. Tossing Corky Porky Pie on top, I pushed-pulled the thing to the hotel’s elevator and rode down to the seventh floor, where a freshly cleaned room awaited us.

Except when I got there, the room was only half-ready and the maid cleaning it spoke little English. . . .


With a lot of hand signals, the maid let me know she’d finish the room in a bit. However, what would I do until then? I couldn’t very well just go out for a cup’a Joe. There were two reasons for that. First—I drink hot chocolate. Second—short, fat dogs are not allowed in Starbucks.

Corky and I paced the halls, trying not to pressure the maid so much that she forgot to do something really important … like cleaning the room. When she finally finished, I pushmi-pullyued the baggage cart through the door. It felt a bit cool in there, but at least the noise of last night’s whining elevator was noticeably absent. I looked at the dog and he looked at me. “Ahhh, finally a decent place,” I said, flopping back onto the bed. Corky showed his agreement with the flying leap of a gymnast, and a four-point landing on my chest. All 35 pounds of him.

Darkness closed around me. A writer who wishes to live to write another day needs oxygen! I rolled the pooch off my chest and inhaled air into my flattened lungs. My vision cleared and I sat up. Now was the ideal time—once and for all—to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be.

Just then, the lock on the door clicked and Russ walked in, done with his workshops for the day. And that’s when I noticed the room was cooling, like a fat strawberry in an ice cream churn.

I walked over to the thermostat. Ah, ha! The heat was off. I clicked it on. The fan whirred like a cricket on a midsummer’s night—no banging, no clunking, no rumbling floor. Russ and I congratulated each other on our good fortune. A hotel heater that worked quietly . . . I could only compare it to finding a bottle of vintage, port wine. Only I wouldn’t really know about wine, for two reasons. First—I drink Kool-Aid. Second—I like having a temple recommend.

Now, certainly, my writing time had come. I hurried to the desk and turned on the computer. The chair—one of those old-fashioned, square-backed, never-seen-a-roller-on-its-legs-in-its-life type—sat just a little too far away for me to reach the keyboard easily.

Sliding my fingers under the seat, I hopped the chair up and forward.

It could have been a thought on the breeze that warned me, but I’m thinking it was the intense pain that conveyed the message. I’d placed my fingers between the upholstered plywood seat and the chair’s frame. And I couldn’t pull them out because I was sitting on that seat.

Despite the fact that writers usually have a good vocabulary, the only word that came to mind was **@^%#@!#&**! Good thing the cold room had slowed my brain, or I might have come up with a real word.

I jerked my hand free and shook it, on the idiotic theory that shaking an injured part distracts the nerve endings. As I did, I stepped in front of the whirring heater. Air, the temperature of an ice cube, poured from its vent. The blast gave me goose bumps and turned my blood to slush—but there was an upside to it. At least my fingers were too cold to hurt anymore.

The downside was that it was now evening. The last thing we wanted was to spend the night sleeping in a room the temperature of a meat locker. However, we wanted even less to spend the night in the company of a maintenance man, banging away on the heater, interrupting our rest and relaxation.

What to do, what to do. . . .

(Last week I said you’d hear about the slip-and-fall in the bathroom this week. But …umm…I couldn’t overlook telling you about my war wound, could I? I promise, next week we’ll go to the bathroom.)

What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

C.L.’s other work:
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Writing Lessons From a Block of Wood

By Keith Fisher

When this blog began, it was called blogck in reference to the phenomenon that often happens to writers. It’s called writer’s block, and it’s when a writer tries to work and can’t seem to think of anything to write. There are many methods for relieving this condition and this blog was intended to be one of them for the authors.

In thinking about our blog name and the purpose, I dreamed up a new logo. What do you think?

Also while thinking of the name, I was reminded of a recent movie that most of you have probably seen.

In Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Mr. Magorium gave Molly a marvelous gift. He reached into his dishwasher, removed a large block of wood, and handed it to her. Of course she was at a loss as to what to do with it. See the block in the picture?

The story unfolds and Molly is shocked to discover that Magorium is going to die and he wants to give the magical, living toy store to her. She objects because she claims to have no magic and can't run the store. Magorium asks her if she used the block of wood, she asked how, and he told her that she must believe in the block.

If we attach this as a metaphor to our writer’s block, we must imagine a set of children’s toy blocks with numbers, symbols, and letters printed on them. The words are there—the letters are in the blocks. We must believe in the blocks and place one letter in front of the other until suddenly, out of nowhere, an idea begins to form. Before we know it, we have written pages of beautiful prose. We set the blocks aside and move on in the jubilation of our craft.

In the movie, Magorium died and Maggie is left with a half-dead toy store. All appears to be lost but at the last minute, the block shows Maggie the magic inside her and she uses it to bring the store back to life.

Like Maggie, there is magic in our souls. Sometimes we think the magic is lost, but if we believe in the block and use it to learn and grow, it will show us the magic that is writing.

Good luck with your writing, see you next week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

18 or 30?

by G.Parker

Those who are age conscious will look at that title and think I'm going to talk about the differences between a teenager and an adult, or something related to it. Fooled ya, didn't I?

A long time ago I heard that it takes 30 days to set a new habit. It doesn't take very long to undo it, but it takes 30 days of repetition for the habit to be set. Last Monday in a work meeting, someone said that it takes 18 times of doing something to set it as a habit. I thought that was interesting, and my writer's mind immediately took over.

In this meeting, they were discussing how perhaps they were repeating themselves in a newsletter they sent out to certain people. It was stated that most of the people didn't keep track and didn't realize it anyway, they all thought it was great.

In my mind I went over our blogs for the past year, and I know at one time or another, I've probably repeated myself, or mentioned something that someone else has said as well. No one has sent us hate mail, and none of us have noticed it ourselves enough to comment, "Hey, didn't I talk about that last month?" So I guess we're good.

But have you ever noticed this phenomenon yourself? I figure this has a lot to do with what we are trying to do as writers. We are trying to get ourselves in a routine -- make our writing a normal every day activity. A group I'm associated with does a Book in a Month thing where they try to write anywhere from 30 to 50,000 words in a month. This is not associated with the National Novel Writing Month, but it's very similar. The whole point of the BIAM project, however, is to get one used to writing every day.

I know that's one thing that I've mentioned before. Sound familiar?

I'm sure in the years to come as we hone our skills as writers and continue to grow and develop, we might repeat ideas or suggestions that we come across in our blogs. Your challenge is to see if you remember it. Does it sound like something you've decided to do and when did you decide to do it? Repetition doesn't hurt when it's a good habit. What kind are you developing?

I've got to get back to my story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seven Random Things
By Nichole Giles

A little while ago, Rachelle Christensen tagged me to write seven random things about myself and share them in a blog. Since I promised this blog to our readers last week, I guess it’s time for me to pay up.

1. I am the oldest of seven children—although the seventh didn’t come along until I was married and had a child of my own.

2. When people ask me where I’m from I usually say “a lot of places” because I was born in Nevada, moved from there to Utah, then Arizona, and back to Utah when I was a senior in high school. I lived in several different cities within each state, and even spent a few months living in Texas with my grandma when I was twelve.

3. I am a champion shopper. My family claims that if there were such a thing as a worldwide shopping competition, I would stand a great shot at winning a trophy. But then, that kind of shopping spree might cure me for life and what fun would that be?

4. I love jewelry. Random, unusual pieces catch my eye and beckon to me. But I also have to admit that jewelry is inspiring to me. Those same random, unusual things give me thoughts of fairies, or jewelry making elves, or even cultures of years ago. I think of fairy tales and love stories and all the things of fiction when I see something remarkable.

5. When I was younger I wanted to be an actress. I was heavily involved in the drama program (in all of my three high schools), fearlessly singing and dancing my way across a stage in front of audiences that ranged in size from a single elementary school class to a thousand or more people attending a community benefit. I felt really lucky when the director picked me to do a commercial on a local TV station for the benefit. That same year, in that same school, I went to New York with the choir for the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall. Those were the days….

6. In the seventh grade, I read the book, “Cheaper by the Dozen” and decided I wanted to have twelve kids when I grew up. I told my mother about this desire, and instead of laughing, she told all my friends—who believed her. When we moved and I thought I had escaped her little joke, she told all my new friends--at my new school--the same thing. That statement followed me through my junior year of high school until we moved to Utah where some families actually did have that many kids. Then my mother finally let it die. I only have four kids.

7. If I had my choice of places to live, I’d choose somewhere by the ocean. The sounds and smells of white-capped, rolling waves call to me every time I’m near the sea. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d wonder if I might have been a mermaid in a former life, especially since I am a huge and total fantasy fan. Doesn’t everyone believe in mermaids? I think one of these days I might take scuba diving lessons so I can swim with the fishes somewhere far away. Maybe I’ll run into some old friends?

Well, there you go, seven random things you never knew about me. I don’t know how many other people I’m supposed to tag, but Rachelle only tagged three. I figure I’m safe doing the same thing. I’m hoping to hear seven random things about:

Darvell Hunt
C.L. Beck
C. LaRene Hall

Have a good week everyone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Difficult People

By C. LaRene Hall

Last week at work, I received a solicitation to attend a seminar about dealing with difficult people. As I read about the traits of these people I had to chuckle. Yes, I know people who fall in all of these categories. Then I decided to use these different types of people in the stories I write.
Everyone knows a ‘know-it-all’ who is arrogant and has opinions on every issue. If someone proves them wrong, they get defensive. This would make a great character.

There are the ‘no’ people who are quick to point out why the thing you suggest won’t work. The ‘yes’ people are the ones who agree to all commitments, but rarely follow through.

I hate being in a meeting with someone who is ‘passive’, never offers an idea or lets you know where they stand. Of course, it’s worse being in such a meeting with the ‘dictator’ that bullies and intimidates everyone. They are demanding and critical, and make everyone uncomfortable.

We mustn’t forget the ‘gripers’ that prefer complaining rather than finding solutions. By including these different types of people in my stories, it would create lots of conflict. I wonder why I never thought about that before.

You can guess what my next story is going to include – a character with each of these traits. People who know when to push the right buttons at the correct time will make a good story.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Toys for an Old Habit

By Darvell Hunt

I wrote the first twenty or so chapters of my second novel rather quickly—and for an odd reason: I bought a new computer. Writers tend to love implements of writing—fancy notebooks, unique pens, and yes, high-tech writing tools as well.

Last week I bought a new laptop/tablet PC in the hope that it will spur me on to write lots of great new fiction. I’m a pushover when it comes to new computers.

The main reason I bought the new writing toy was because I was tired of packing around a huge laptop computer at my last writing conference. The LDStorymakers writing conference is coming up soon and I didn’t want to miss out on taking important notes from the teachings of the likes of James Dashner and Tristi Pinkston.

These are the reasons I’m telling myself to justify buying a new computer, but mostly, I just like new toys. Boys never get tired of new toys; they just get more expensive as we grow up.

I’m also hoping that this new addition to my nerd collection will also help me keep out of my home office to help me be with my family more. On the computer? Sure, okay, but still in the same room with them. Aha, another good reason for a laptop! “Serious writing” might still be done with the door closed, but surfing the web, reading and answering email, and playing games can be done in plain sight.

Well, I have to go. I’m off to browse my local stationary store. Computers are nice, but someone who calls himself a writer can never ignore fancy notebooks and unique pens. I hope the new computer doesn’t get jealous.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Home Away from Home

C.L. Beck
© 2008

I don’t know whether it was the irritating noise, the cramped space, or the slip-and-fall in the bathroom that made me vow never to spend another night in a hotel.


My husband, Russ, had a conference in Salt Lake City for a few days, and I thought it the perfect opportunity to go along, hole up in a hotel room, and write my brains out. It’s impossible to say why that thought even flew over the cuckoo’s nest, because I seldom get a lot of writing done in a hotel room. The reasons for the lack of accomplishment are varied. Mostly, they center on hours spent taking our dog, Corky Porky Pie, out for a walk fifteen times a day to insure an empty bladder (the dog’s, not mine) … and changing rooms.

Yup, I said, “Changing rooms.” It seems no matter how many years in advance we reserve our little home away from home, we end up with less-than-stellar accommodations. One time, we had a hotel room that I swear had a disease living under the bed. Another time, the lighting was so poor the cockroaches were mugging each other.

This time there were no diseases and no cockroaches. Instead, the staff put us in a closet next to the elevator. A closet with a square, chunky heater. You know the type; a heater that clunks all night long, shaking the walls and floors. The kind whose rumble prompts you—in your sleep-induced haze—to leap out of bed and jump in the bathtub fully clothed in your Big Bird pajamas, in hopes of surviving what you think is an earthquake.

However, the heater was noiseless in comparison to the elevator. Every time someone got in it, that contraption would give a, “whiiiiiiine, cheeeeese, cheeeeese” sort of squeak, followed by banging that seemed to come from the bowels of the earth. It did this every few minutes, as people moved up and down the twelve-story hotel. All night long.

Then there was the bed, crammed against the wall, with barely enough space to fit my bunny slippers on the floor next to it. When I needed to go to the little girl’s room in the middle of the night, my choice was to slither all the way to the end of the bed, or crawl over Russ and fall on the floor with a thunk.

After an entire night of whine and cheese by the elevator, I convinced Russ we needed to change rooms. He discussed it with the staff and they agreed. So it was ,while Russ attended the conference workshops, that I repacked our belongings and loaded everything onto a luggage cart that resembled Dr. Doolittle’s Pushmi-pullyu. Tossing Corky Porky Pie on top, I pushed-pulled the thing to the whining elevator and rode down to the seventh floor, where a freshly cleaned room awaited us.

Except when I got there, the room was only half-ready and the maid cleaning it spoke little English. However, that wasn’t all that was wrong. Oh, no. We were in for quite a few more surprises.


Are you wondering yet where the slip-and-fall in the bathroom comes in? It seems you’ll have to stop by again next Monday to find out!

What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

C.L.’s other work:
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Where No One Has Gone Before---Writing the Rosetta Stone

By Keith Fisher

Have you ever seen Star Trek? Do you like it? I’ve been a fan since the first series aired on television. I’m not sure why, but people called us Trekies. Now we’re called Trekers, and we’re proud of it. Even with the thrill of Star Trek, I’ve never been able to kindle that excitement in others. Have you ever watched a non-treker’s reaction to a conversation in a room full of Star Trek fans?

I was perusing the discount DVD bin in my local grocery store the other day and I found a director’s edition of Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn. Of course I bought it. I was delighted to get it so cheap and I told my friend about my treasure. I guess I was expecting jubilation, but all I got was a patient smile. I was crushed. How could anyone not realize the significance of my find?

In the Star Trek world, I believe the second movie is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. Because the original series was great, an attempt was made to transfer ST to the silver screen. To be honest, the first movie was kind of boring with scene after scene of the characters doing nothing but looking at a video screen.

"What is that?" one of the characters would ask.
"I don’t know," another one would answer.

It wasn’t a shining moment in movie making, but it brought Star Trek to a whole new generation.

When the second movie came out, those who like special effects took notice. More than that, however, was the reaction of the fans---they were thrilled. Like in the TV show, there was magic between the cast members, and the movie was tied to an episode from the series. It all made sense, and we cried when Spock died. We all knew he’d be back, but it was sweet sadness to see him hold up his hand and say goodbye to his best friend.

There have been more movies and whole TV series’ since. Some were good---some were not so good, but all of it adds to the magic that is Star Trek. Trekers are free to debate the finer points of the universe until the Nexus comes around to take us into our perfect day.

That was a little inside terminology that my friend doesn’t understand. Which brings us back to the point of this blog: How do you spark interest in Star Trek, or your latest novel, without explaining the whole thing?

We could lock our friends in a room with all the series episodes and movies then try to explain the difficult points, but some people still might not get it. We are left with feelings of frustration and we mutter under our breath, "How on earth can they not love it?"

Such is the world of writing fiction. There are those who will love everything we ever write, and there are those who will never get it. We have to accept that, but we must also make it flow. We can’t go from point A to point B in a story without providing a link between the two. Like the Rosetta Stone, Star Trek II provided a link between the original, and everything that came after it. In our writing, we must provide a plausible and entertaining link between the hook and the fantastic ending. If we do it right, our writing might develop a following. Who knows there might be a convention someday based on my story.

By the way, I heard there is a new Star Trek movie coming out this year. Time to dust off your Vulcan ears and tune up your tricorder.

Good luck with your writing, see you next week, and . . . uh . . . live long and prosper.

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's In The Journey

by G.Parker

It's in the journey -- I became intimately acquainted with that thought this past week. I have come to realize it means more than one thing, but mainly it's all about perception.

We think when bad things happen to us that it is so difficult, and our lives are so hard. Most of us are apt to bemoan "Why me? Why is this happening?" Then we hear about someone else's problems, and realize that we have it so much easier than they do.

We'll read a book and think, "Man! I know how this is going to end." but we continue reading it anyway, because we want to know how they reached that end. For example, we've been watching the movie Walk In The Clouds with Keanu Reaves this week. It's a lovely romantic film, with old fashioned values and traditions, showing the strength of family and honor. It's also very obvious from the beginning that the man and the woman are going to end up together -- what's fun is seeing how that happens. What is the crisis that pulls them there? How do they fall in love?

While we were watching it, I realized it seemed very similar to the movie made only two years later called Fools Rush In. It's along the same premise, with even the same type of family background. Only, how they arrive at the end is different.

So, it occurred to me that it's all in the journey. As a writer, that is something I always need to keep in mind, because that is what makes or breaks my book. I may have an excited first page, first chapter, etc., but if it falls apart in the middle, the reader isn't going to want to finish. They could care less about the ending because the journey fell apart.

Also, this is something to look for in your everyday lives. Living a normal life is easy to take for granted. Once flat on your back the realization comes that things are not as easy as they were and everything takes on a different perspective. The future looms with a little bit of fear and uncertainty. Thoughts go through your head that make you question the journey you are on. "Is this going to be permanent? How will this affect my family? What about my work?"

Don't take the journey for granted. Live every day to the fullest and remember to put that in your writing, it will make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Advice From the Pros

By Nichole Giles

Last week I promised to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from the recent sci-fi/ fantasy conference held at BYU. Unfortunately, my weekly blog space doesn’t allow for me to cut and paste my several pages of notes. Therefore, I am forced to choose a few tips to share. It is my hope that I can pick tips that will be the most beneficial for your writing endeavors, even if they do seem a bit random.

First, a little tidbit from Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Speaker of the Dead, and a very long list of other books:

Arrive at the answers having earned them.”

Mr. Card gave a lovely speech about causality in writing, explaining that we should never ever stop asking the question, “Why?” He gives the following advice:

Start with character and determine how we relate with him or her. Why…why…why? We don’t even know why WE do what we do! Who knows if you’re right? What is your motive? Is it what you mean to do? Is it heredity?

Fiction tells us why we do what we do and no one can contradict you.

To be a good writer find depth. Don’t fall in love with your first idea, or even your 10th.


Thank you, Mr. Card. We’ll do our best. Now, moving on to another brilliant author, Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, Fairest, and many other beautifully told fairy tales.

When I make a list of possibilities I invite my stupid ideas in, because they are not shy. I write down the stupid ideas and then my smart ideas start coming forward. I use my stupid ideas and don’t call them names. I keep a file of names from book to book. And a memory file.”

“I cut ruthlessly. Your most beautiful writing will probably be the stuff that needs to be sacrificed. You’re going to write more beautiful stuff, and that might have to go too. I save that in a file I call extras. (Then historians can see those gems in the future.) In a few of my books they put a special section in the back for some of those things and that too is very satisfying

The following are quotes I picked up from this conference that really made me think hard about my own writing. Enjoy!

“Humor is surprise without threat or promise.” Rick Walton

A good way to add humor is to create a quirky character who does bizarre, unexpected things.” James Dashner

The difference between children’s fiction and adult fiction is that children’s books can’t be boring.” Rebecca Shelly

Social networking is the foundation of getting published. That, and good writing.” Brandon Sanderson

There is nothing more important than writing for kids because the things they learn as readers, writers, and thinkers is part of what kinds of people they will become.” Rick Walton

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about some of my favorite authors. Stay tuned next week for the answers to Rachelle Christiensen’s tag—Seven Random Things About Me. This should be interesting!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fast Action

By C. LaRene Hall

I already had a blog written, but after a frightening Friday afternoon, I changed my mind. Three hours after the incident, my writing head kicked in. I was too terrified to think of the incident until then.

During the last half hour of work, I went to the bank to deposit a check. I pulled to the drive-up window, because I’m too lazy to go inside the building, so I opted to stay in my car. I opened my window and put the deposit into the tray. Then the action started. A police officer pulled his car at an angle on the road in front of the drive-up lane, so nobody could get out. He jumped from the car, drew a gun, aimed down the street, and yelled, “Hold it right there.”

A black cloud settled over my entire being. Finally, I heard the sirens screaming all around me. Another police car pulled behind the first. I sat there wondering, “Is the bank being robbed?”

People lined the sidewalks, and I thought, “You are sure dumb.”

I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to watch activity that involved guns. Then I watched as other people took pictures, while I just wanted to be as far away from here as I could get.

Everything inside the bank seemed normal, except the teller helping me, was extra slow, and didn’t come back to the window for a long time. When she returned I asked, “Do you have your doors locked?”

“No, we don’t. We’re okay. A high speed chase ended in front of our bank.”

That was a relief, but I still wanted to leave. No cars were behind me so I backed out, and exited to the rear. What a chicken I was. I didn’t want to know what was going on, I just wanted to be gone.

Now, as I sit here hours later I’m angry that my curiosity didn’t get the best of me. I could have written a good story, but I was too scared to watch the action.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Flu-written, not Flea-ridden

C.L. Beck
© 2008

My blog today is flu-written. No, I did not say flea-ridden. Flea-ridden is what happens when you saddle a flea and ride it. Flu-written means you wrote something while coughing your head off and wishing you’d gotten the influenza vaccination last fall. You know—the shot that the CDC now thinks was for the wrong viral strain.

Since some of you may actually be coughing and hacking yourself, I thought I’d share a list of items that make it easier to write while dying of the flu.

  1. Laptop computer. Lie on the couch and prop your laptop on your knees. In your weakened condition, you would slide onto the floor if you tried to sit at a desk, anyway. Play a few computer games to sharpen your mind for writing.

  2. Kleenex. The closer the box sits, the quicker you stop drips. For ease of use, place the box on your forehead. Expect that in your hazy condition, the trashcan will appear farther away than it actually is, so save your energy and drop the used tissues on the floor. When your spouse asks about the three-foot deep layer of wadded Kleenex, blame the kids. If he/she notices Gorg, the Barbarian Warrior, is loaded on your laptop and asks why, say you’re doing research.

  3. Motrin. The bigger the better—a giant, 5000 mg tablet would definitely stop the ache in your joints—but then, it might be tough to get that down your sore throat. Try dipping it in honey first.

  4. Cough medicine. The kind whose label warns of a visit by drug enforcement officers if you tell anyone it's in the house. Take a tablespoon or six and watch how quickly your cough stops. Lick the drip on the edge of the bottle, just to insure you’ve had enough. You might see pretty lights and feel like taking a nap. Gorg, the Barbarian, may jump off the screen and actually speak to you. Don’t worry; it’s just the effects of the flu. Take a few more tablespoons of cough syrup to counteract it.

  5. Ice cream. Ignore your doctor’s orders to avoid sugar because it inhibits healing. What does he know? His thirty years of study at the Stevens-Henager College of Origami hasn’t made him any smarter than you. Consume a gallon or two of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk—just to prove him wrong and cheer you up.

  6. Thermometer. This is the most important item in your flu-fighting arsenal. Take your temperature every few minutes. If it shows normal, run it under really hot water to kill the germs. Then look at it again. See? You’ve got a temperature of 210 degrees! It’s a wonder you even have the strength to wad up Kleenex. If your spouse asks you to fix supper or take out the trash, reply with a racking cough and the words, “But, I’m a sickie with a fever.” Your partner needs to understand you’re far too weak to do anything but sit and chat with Gorg, the Barbarian.

I hope these tips have helped. I’m sure I could think of more, but the thermometer shows I’m running a temperature, so I can’t do work of any kind. Besides, it’s been five minutes since my last dose of cough syrup and I’d better take a cup or two.

Aaahh, that’s better.

Oh, and one more thing. Before I leave to get a gallon of ice cream from the freezer ... Gorg, the Barbarian, says to tell you hello.

(Disclaimer: This blog is all in fun. Do not consume large amounts of Motrin or cough syrup, no matter how bad your symptoms. But hey, the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream might be okay.)

What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

C.L.’s other work:
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction

The Blank Page

By Keith Fisher

When I sat down to write this blog two things struck me. I had no clear idea where I was going with it, and I noticed the vastness of the blank, white page. Have you ever noticed how daunting an empty page can be? I know I’m not the first to notice this but it seems a page of clean white paper can influence a writer in positive and negative ways.

It is exciting when you, as a writer, have an idea percolating and you can’t write it fast enough. A blank piece of paper, any blank piece of paper will serve as a coveted gift. Not unlike the gift of a drop of water to a thirsty man who is languishing in the desert.

On the other hand, if a writer has a deadline and nothing comes to mind to write, the blank page can be like an endless void. It sucks a writer into the dark recesses of the snow-white abyss, never to see color, or the reassuring comfort of black words filling the white page.

In an effort to eliminate the blank white page, I went into options on the tools menu in Word and turned the page blue with white writing. It reminded me of the old Word Perfect program I used to use, but it did nothing to help me get new ideas. In fact, I think it was worse. Would you rather be stuck in an abyss of white or be condemned to spend eternity in blue?

I guess it’s up to you, but I prefer to look out the window and see the multi colors of new growth associated with Spring and a beautiful day. The buds are on the trees and the crocuses are breaking free from their long winter slumber. It will be a beautiful Spring, followed by a fantastic Summer, but first, I’ve got to write an article for the blog and make it look like it flowed from my fingertips with very little effort on my part.

Ah, such is the magic in the craft of writing. It is the only job I know where a piece of blank paper can cause such an array of emotions. It is the lifeblood of an imagination that cannot be controlled. Go outside and enjoy spring, see how many worlds you can create by analyzing the growth of a blade of grass. You will be better for the experience.

Good luck with your writing, see you next week.